“Have you written to Santa Claus?” my lovely wife, Grace, asked.
I had just commented that I hoped to receive a new phone with a better camera for Christmas, what with our upcoming visit to see our son, Geoff; his wife, Suzanne; grandson, Charlie; and granddaughter, Ashleigh.
“Have you have been a nice boy this year?” she grinned.
“Sure,” I replied, “but I haven’t written to Santa in, well, let’s see…over fifty years.”
“You’re never too old to start again,” Grace replied. “Plus, it may improve your chances of getting that phone.”
“I would never kid about Santa Claus,” Grace proclaimed, pulling her shoulders back and giving me a serious gaze. Then she leaned forward just a little and added softly, “Age doesn’t always determine whether or not one is a kid.”
So, I found myself in the study, pen in hand, staring at a blank sheet of paper. How does one begin such a letter? Oh, I still believe, and all—just like the boy in the movie The Polar Express. It was just, how do you begin to write to someone you talk about every year and yet have neglected to correspond with for so long? It was definitely harder to write to St. Nick as a senior citizen than I recall it being at age seven.
I made a few feeble starts:
Santa: re: gifts, pls. c a word doc attached 2 an em I will send 2 u…
Santa: I was sorry to hear you were expelled from some schools in favor of winter solstice pageants. Don’t pout. We had a guy in my school who was expelled (put a firecracker in the toilet), and he went on to make a gazillion in hi-tech…
I gave up and trudged downstairs.
“It’s not working,” I sighed. “I can’t seem to find the right message.”
“Perhaps you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective,” Grace offered. Before I could ask her to expand on the thought, the air was filled with high-pitched shouts of joy.
“We found it! We found it! Mimi, we found it!” they shouted. We followed the shrieks to the living room. Granddaughters Brooke and Kara, ages five and two, were jumping, both feet leaving the floor, and clapping their hands.
“We found it, Mimi. We found the pickle!”
“The pickle” is a Christmas ornament in the shape of, yes, a pickle. It comes from an old German custom. One line of Grace’s roots traces back to Germany. A pickle ornament is placed somewhere on the Christmas tree, hidden from plain view. According to the tradition, the person who first finds the ornament receives an extra gift and a special blessing for the following year. Each Christmas, Grace hides the pickle ornament. It seems to have always been found by one of the children, and now by the children of those children. I mentioned to Grace that I had been looking for that ornament just the other day and hadn’t spotted it.
“You need to get on your knees,” she said.
“That, too,” Grace laughed. “But I mean to find the pickle. You need to see the tree from the perspective of the little ones. That’s where I always put it.”
“Now, girls,” Grace declared, “I have one gift. Can you share it?”
“Can we give it to Nora?” inquired Brooke. Nora is her little cousin, born a year ago—just before Christmas.
“Yes, we want to give it to Nora,” chimed in Kara.
Grace smiled. “How sweet of you. We can give this to her. Now, how would you two like to help frost and sample some cookies?” This was followed by a new round of squealing, jumping, and clapping.
I retreated to the den and picked up my pen.
I hope this letter finds you, the missus, and the team up north all well. We are well here—very well, in fact. Grace and I are blessed with a fabulous family, four wonderful children, their spouses, and ten delightful grandchildren.
We also have great friends and neighbors here on Daniel Island. Perhaps you may have heard of the local Rotary Club that raises money through a rubber-duck race to help others throughout the community and around the world. You and Mrs. Claus should really look at Daniel Island as a second home—escape the cold, and all.
We’ll set out one of Grace’s famous cranberry margaritas for you on Christmas Eve. We have only one wish. It is that you continue to bring happiness and love to children throughout the world. All kids are a joy and a delight. They are truly the light to our future. May it always shine brightly.
I’m sorry it has been so long since my previous letter. I promise to write again next year. No kidding.
Godspeed and safe travels,
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish